Any Qualified Provider

The Department has committed to working alongside the NHS to support the phased roll out of extended patient choice of Any Qualified Provider (AQP).

Operational guidance to the NHS setting out plans to deliver the Government’s commitment to extending patient choice of provider has been published.

Consultation response

Operational Guidance to the NHS : Extending patient choice of provider

The roll out will start with selected community and mental health services from April 2012. These services are:

The guidance sets out key actions for implementation:

  • by 30 September 2011, all PCT clusters, supported by pathfinder clinical commissioning groups, should have engaged patients, patient representatives, Health and Wellbeing Boards, healthcare professionals and providers on local priorities for extending choice of provider.
  • by 31 October 2011, clusters and clinical commissioning groups should have used the feedback from this engagement to identify three or more community or mental health services for implementation, drawing from the national list or local priorities.
  • SHAs should be notified of cluster/commissioning group priorities for 2012/13. This information will be shared with the Department to inform the next phase of the national choice offer.

To provide support to the NHS and gain the benefits of shared learning, the Department will work with volunteer PCT Clusters to produce ‘Implementation Packs’ for the priority services. Each region is, currently, confirming volunteer AQP commissioners (PCT clusters working with emerging Clinical Commissioning Groups) to co-produce packs with the Department. The implementation packs will be available for the NHS to use from November 2011. This approach will enable to test implementation and secure the benefits of collaboration, for example, minimising the cost and bureaucracy to the system and creating effective but simple governance arrangements.

Why this is being done

In developing this guidance, DH has engaged with clinicians, providers, commissioners, patient groups and voluntary organisations on how best to extend patient choice of provider. The Department has talked to these groups about which services should be subject to patient choice, how qualification criteria for providers can help to reduce bureaucracy and assure quality, and how the procurement process for extending choice of provider should operate. The approach to implementation has been developed in response to what we have heard.

The goal is to enable patients to choose any qualified provider where this will result in better care.  Choice of provider is expected to drive up quality, empower patients and enable innovation. Importantly, extending choice of AQP provides a vehicle to improve access, address gaps and inequalities and improve quality of services where patients have identified variable quality in the past.

A phased approach is being adopted and  commissioners are being asked to engage locally to determine where choice of any qualified provider best meets the demands of patients, and is expected to deliver quality improvements. The department will work with the NHS to ensure lessons are learned from each stage of the rollout. Commissioners will continue to control both contracts and prices, and to challenge providers to deliver services of the highest quality.

What this means for patients

What this means for providers

In NHS providers, Pathfinder Learning Network | Tagged , ,

4 Responses to Any Qualified Provider

  1. Nick Pahl says:

    We would like to ensure that British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) members are part of the any qualified provider process. We are the largest body in the UK for the regulation of traditional acupuncture. With over 3,000 members, it has a track record of delivering robust self-regulation (recognised in the Secretary of State for Health’s announcement on herbal medicine on 16 February 2011).

    We would like to be part of a national qualificiation process.The recent inclusion of acupuncture in the NICE guidelines on the treatment of lower back pain is a demonstration of how BAcC members can significantly and increasingly benefit the nation’s health in this area.

    We believe that the public should have the opportunity to choose acupuncture as part of their NHS provision, and be able to receive advice and treatment from professional acupuncturists.

    • audiologist says:

      Audiology services are used mainly by the most vulnerable members of our society – older people with complex needs. AQP gives the independent sector greater access to manipulate facts and railroad them into purchasing “better hearing aids ” rather than using NHS products. Present day Audiology departments provide high tech instruments comparable to the private sector . They also have empathy , understanding and the skills to ensure an holistic and caring service – with links to Social Services etc. It is a fallacy that the NHS has long waits and only work from hospital sites. Our department provides sessions at 9 health centres , home visits and 5 days a week access at a site convenient to the user . There is continuity of care , users know who they are dealing with, where to find them and receive high class care in a safe, friendly environment . AQP will dissipate all quality and compassion . It will be a tragedy

  2. Evie Hall says:

    How will commissioners ensure that they don’t overspend on services within ‘Any qualified provider’? If the demand for some services is greater then the available provision e.g. podiatry, then isn’t there a risk that increasing the number of providers will increase the number of people receiving treatment and therefore the overall cost.
    How can current local providers ensure that they are part of any local engagemnt that takes place?

    • Hester@DH says:

      Thank you for your questions.

      As is the case now, commissioners will need to ensure that they are financially stable and do not overspend on services. The ‘Any Qualified Provider’ process allows commissioners to set the price they pay to providers, and establish clear referral protocols and clinical treatment thresholds based on best practice. This means that a set of criteria is developed, outside of which providers will return referrals to the referring clinician. In the event that patients are treated outside of these criteria, they should not be paid.

      The intention of this policy is to increase choice and access for patients. If the demand for certain services currently outstrips the supply, this means patients are not getting treated. Extending patient choice of provider might allow more patients to get the treatment they need more easily – we think this is a good thing. It is worth bearing in mind that we are rolling out Any Qualified Provider in a phased way, starting with a limited number of community and mental health services. We hope that this measured pace will give commissioners the time they need to get it right. We are currently working with the NHS to develop ‘implementation packs’ for each of the service areas. These packs will help commissioners implement AQP successfully and in a sustainable way.

      Commissioners are currently making decisions about which service areas are priorities for implementing AQP in their area. If providers have an innovative way they think they can deliver a service, they might want to contact their local PCT to discuss this further.

      Hester Wadge
      Policy and Briefing Manager, Any Qualified Provider, DH

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